Rescuing a Dog FAQ

We recently adopted our five-month-old, Greek Harehound from Cyprus, through a charity called Underdog International. You can read all about the process of adoption in my blog post here.

This post is to answer the questions you may have about adopting a rescue dog from abroad.

Quick disclaimer, I’m not an expert by any means, however, we rehomed Bramley, our Golden Retriever and now have gone through the process of rescuing Zola from Cyprus, so we know a thing or two about the journey of rescuing a dog.

What does it mean when a dog is a rescue?

A rescue dog is a dog that has been placed in a new home after being abused, neglected, or abandoned by its previous owner. Many animal rescue organisations exist to rescue, protect, and re-home dogs from unnecessary euthanasia, particularly abroad.

Why choose a Rescue Dog over a Puppy from a breeder?

It’s Rewarding

Getting a rescue dog is super rewarding.

When your dog, who may have previously been nervous around you, or couldn’t walk properly on a lead, shows signs of improvement, you feel really, really proud. Knowing you have worked hard to give them a second chance and turn them into a well-loved, balanced pet. Even if your dog has no issues, the simple act of giving them a loving forever home is very rewarding. This alone should make you think about the benefits of rehoming a rescue dog or puppy over buying from a breeder.

Puppies Are Hard Work

It’s no secret that raising a puppy is hard work, and often compared to raising a child. You have to toilet train puppies and teach them pretty much everything.

True, puppies are in the adaptable, developmental stage in their lives but without your willingness to train, socialise and stimulate your pup, it’s likely you’ll find the whole experience very overwhelming.

Getting a puppy is a huge commitment that should not be taken lightly regardless if they are a rescue dog or not.

Puppies Are Expensive

There’s no doubt about it, puppies are very expensive. Pedigree puppies from a breeder will cost over £2000 to purchase. On top of this, you need to buy them everything they need to stay healthy and happy such as food, beds, toys, grooming products etc. Rescue dogs usually cost between £150 to £2,000 (if you’re rescuing from China, for example) It’s all dependent on which rescue centre you get your dog from.

You save two lives

You are potentially saving two dogs’ lives by rescuing a dog from a shelter – the life of the dog you adopt and the space that opens up for another dog in that shelter or rescue.

How much should you pay for a rescue dog?

This was a very common question and one that is a little bit more tricky to answer. Often UK rescues will have a minimum ‘contribution’ fee, which helps to cover costs whilst they’ve looked after the dog. This can range from £150 for an adult dog, to £200+ for a puppy. Those figures are based on what the RSPCA charge. Each UK charity/shelter will have its own set fee.

If you’re looking to adopt a dog from abroad, naturally the fees will be slightly higher. We paid £650 in total for Zola, which helped to cover flight costs and vet checks etc.

Are rescue dogs good pets?

Absolutely. I strongly believe that rescue dogs make excellent pets, regardless of their background. Some may need more special attention than others but if you have the time to build their trust and give them a calm, loving home, there is no reason why a rescue dog isn’t as good (if not, better) than buying a dog from a breeder.

How long does it take for a rescue dog to settle in?

I’ve read that the milestones come in threes.

In three days, the dog will likely still be confused by his/her new surroundings, so it’s important to give them time to settle in, at their own pace. By the three week point, the dog will start to be more comfortable and will begin to trust; And by month three, your dog should have become more comfortable in your home. He/she should then begin to show their true personality and bond with their new owners.

For us, it was a lot quicker. Zola settled in incredibly well within the first few weeks. She has the occasional accident in the house, but overall she has been quick to pick up house training and has bonded beautifully with Bramley. (More on this below)

How long does it take for two dogs to bond?

From my research, I found that a common problem is that many people do not give two dogs time to adequately adjust to one another before deciding that having two dogs will simply not work. In some cases, it can take a few months for your dog and a new dog to establish and accept each other’s position in the pack.

From our experience, Bramley (Our six-year-old Golden Retriever) took about a week to accept the fact Zola was here to stay. He has his moments, particularly when it comes to guarding toys, or food but overall he has been great.

Underdog International advised that we should feed the dogs in separate rooms, this avoids any unwanted aggression around feeding times. Also, make sure you stock up on plenty of toys, so each dog always has something to play with, limiting the need for possessive behaviour.

Remember to give your dogs time. Don’t force anything, their interactions should come naturally and when they feel ready.

I hope I managed to answer your questions. I will be creating more of these kinds of posts, so keep your eyes peeled!

Check out Underdog international, if you’re considering adopting a dog. They are an incredible charity.


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